Good News Israel Archive from the week of February 1, 2015. Israel’s Economy ministry has awarded NIS 10 million to two organizations for the training and integration of Arab, Druse, and Circassian academics into the hi-tech sector. Read further for more good news from Israel.
By Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
There are good and bad white blood cells
Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have discovered that neutrophils (a form of white blood cell) contain many different subtypes. Some of these prevent cancer and others promote it. It opens avenues for therapies that increase anti-tumor neutrophils and limit pro-tumor ones.
Graft-vs-Host disease treatment gets boost
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has granted Israeli biotech Enlivex “orphan” status for its ApoCell treatment to prevent Graft-vs-Host Disease. It will speed up development of the Israeli innovation that stops rejection of transplanted cells and bone marrow.
Researching Autism with Japan
A team of Israeli and Japanese researchers has embarked on a project to discover how autistic spectrum disorder develops in the brain. It follows the conference “Advances in Brain Sciences”, jointly hosted by the Weizmann Institute of Science and Japan’s RIKEN Brain Science Institute.
Norwegian charity prize for Israeli cancer expert
Norway’s largest charitable organization, the Olav Thon Foundation has chosen Tel Aviv University cancer geneticist Professor Yosef Shiloh as one of the two recipients of its very first international medical research award.
350,000 people to benefit from new medicines
Israel’s Health Council has added an additional 73 medicines and technologies into the Government’s subsidized “Health Basket”. The changes will benefit 350,000 Israelis at a cost of NIS 324 million.
Mapping the brains of the blind
Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are studying brain activity of blind people in order to shed new light on how our brains can adapt to the rapid cultural and technological changes of the 21st Century. Already they have found that reading Braille utilizes “visual” areas of the brain.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Integrating minorities into hi-tech
Israel’s Economy ministry has awarded NIS 10 million to two organizations, Tsofen and ITworks, for the training and integration of Arab, Druse, and Circassian academics into the hi-tech sector. It will help narrow the social and economic gaps between population sectors in Israel.
Haredi women – a market sector all their own
Technically skilled Haredi (ultra-orthodox) women are carving out a new sector in the Israeli entrepreneurial space. The Jerusalem “hub” of the organization Temech, helps connect them to professional resources, to employment opportunities or to start their own businesses.
And the first Haredi women’s political party
For the first time in Israeli political history, a political party led by Haredi women is to run in the March 19th Israeli elections. The party to be named “Bizchutan” (“in their merit”) will be led by Ruth Kuliak, a social activist who has worked to promote the advancement of women.
More protection for consumers
Amendments to Israel’s Consumer Protection Law went into force on 1st Jan, strengthening consumer rights. They enforce existing laws with short-timescale fines and add new laws to ban undue pressures to make purchases. You can also now take your own food into cinemas!
New program to get Israelis on their bikes
Israel’s Environment Ministry is to provide $1.6 million for local authorities to encourage commuters to use public transport or bicycles in congested Israeli cities. It includes new bicycle rental stations, cycle paths and a subsidized station taxi service. Jerusalem will get a “biker’s app”.
Nice photos from home and abroad
Two photos aptly fit this “inclusive and global” section. The first is of an Arab girl in hijab, a Jewish man in black hat and a female Israeli soldier waiting to cross a Jerusalem street. Then Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird took a lovely photo at Davos.
Bringing a smile to Vietnamese children
Two surgeons from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center – Omri Amudi and Zach Sharony – have just returned from participating in “Operation Smile” in Vietnam. They performed free reconstructive surgery on children for cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Send video messages from your wristwatch
Israeli start-up Glide has developed video texting that is so fast, you could be watching the video the other side of the world before your friend has finished recording it! And now, Glide is putting that technology onto smart watches. Remember Dick Tracey’s watch? It’s been superceded.
Ecological makeover for Tel Aviv bus station
The Onya Collective is turning Tel Aviv’s massive concrete bus station into a blossoming center for urban ecology. This includes hydroponics, growing plants without soil, under special LED lights. Gardens grow lettuce and strawberries using drip irrigation from the air-con system.
China-Israel innovation cooperation
Beijing hosted the first meeting of the China-Israel government innovative cooperation joint committee. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both sent their congratulations.
Micro-irrigation for India
Israeli water company Netafim has been selected to partake in a $60 million micro-irrigation project in the Indian state of Karnataka. The project will span 12,000 hectares, help 6,700 farmers in 22 villages, increase crop production and save 50 percent of their water consumption.
A Digital Upgrade at the Tower of David Museum
Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum is introducing a new digital initiative. Position any mobile device over the view and an audiovisual guide, using IDF mapping technology, will identify and explain landmarks within the frame.
You won’t need this in Israel
Israeli Shalom Koresh has invented a new invisible kippa (skull cap) made from artificial hair called “Magic Kippa.” It is for Orthodox Jews in Europe where recent terrorist attacks against the Jewish communities have left many afraid to go out in public wearing a kippa.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Government deficit far lower than expected
The Israeli Government’s 2014 deficit was NIS 29.9 billion (2.8% of GDP) compared to its budget of NIS 31.1 billion. This is despite an unplanned NIS 7 billion cost of fighting Operation Protective Edge.
Over $900 million for Israeli startups in one week
Acquisitions and investment into Israeli startups in a seven-day period in January amounted to over $900 million. Amazon bought Israel’s Annapurna Labs for $370 million. Harman paid $200 million for Red Bend Software. Dropbox bought CloudOn and Microsoft, Equivo. And take a look at The Economist’s infograph showing Tel Aviv as the world’s no. 2 startup ecosystem.
17-year-old head of Israeli startup
17-year-old Iddo Gino heads RapidPay, a year-old company providing a mobile payment platform for customers without a credit card. Iddo studies at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa and hopes to obtain a degree in computer science at the Open University next year.
Direct flights to China
China’s largest private airline, Hainan, is to commence flights between Tel Aviv and Beijing. Hainan will operate three return flights a week, on the days that El Al does not fly to Beijing. The new service reflects increased business ties between China and Israel and a 76% rise in Chinese tourists since 2012.
Chinese set up second $100 million investment fund
The founders of Chinese holdings giant Tencent and social network Renren are putting up cash for a new $102 million fund – the second to invest in Israeli startups. The new fund will cover financial technology, the Internet of Things, mobile development, and robotics.
Canada strengthens cooperation with Israel
The Foreign Ministers of Israel and Canada have signed a Joint Declaration of Solidarity and Friendship that they said would increase collaboration on diplomacy and trade development.
Water desalination for Texas
Israel’s IDE Technologies is expanding throughout the USA by opening a new office in the State of Texas. Regular newsletter readers may recall IDE’s desalination facility in San Diego.
Dropbox opens Middle East hub in Israel
Dropbox has acquired Israel’s CloudOn, a startup that offers a service for creating and editing documents on mobile devices. Dropbox will use CloudOn’s Herzliya office as a new hub in the Middle East.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Israeli food is “yummy”
A new Taglit tour of Israel concentrates on the culinary delights of Israel. Participants (mostly chefs) learn about Israeli cuisine, meet Israeli chefs and visit organic farms in the desert, boutique wineries and markets. A participant described it as a “bonding experience with the land through food.”
Israel Space Week
During its annual Space Week Israel launched an “out of this world” website on Israeli activities related to space. There were also 25 free activities including observations of Jupiter, workshops for building satellite and space vehicle models, planetarium shows, an intergalactic light show and much more.
Jewish Capoeira in Tel Aviv
Ultra Orthodox Jew Micky Hayat belongs to the Abada Capoeira training group near Tel Aviv Port. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines dance, acrobatics and music. Micky teaches over 200 students, while seeking to promote martial arts in the ultra orthodox sector in Israel.
“The largest sports event in Israel’s history”
The 2015 Tel Aviv Marathon on Feb 27th has attracted 40,000 runners. 110,000 more will take part in the half-marathon, the 10km and 5km races and the hand-cycle race.
THE JEWISH STATE
Israel’s Social Media Ambassadors
The International education non-profit StandWithUs has launched its “Social Media Ambassadors” program. University students will be trained to use multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more, to educate the public at large about the reality of Israel.
“The most diverse Jewish community in the world”
Nachlaot is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Hassidim, secular, non-Jews, everyone lives together. Students and tourists make it part of the essential Jewish experience.
Israel’s first female spiritual advisor
In the Bible there was Deborah and in Talmud times there was Bruriah. Today, the Efrat Community has Jennie Rosenfeld – the first woman in the history of the State of Israel to fill the role of manhiga ruchanit – spiritual advisor.
“Awed by pluralistic, diverse Israel”
During a San Diego State University non-Jewish student’s visit to Israel he saw a Christian church, a Jewish synagogue, and a Muslim mosque all within a block of each other and heard the Muslim call to prayer in Jaffa. It left him determined to stand up for the democratic Jewish State.
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